Emeli Sandé tried to straighten her hair as a young girl because she "hadn't really seen anyone who looked like her on television"
The 'Clown' hitmaker is glad to see the Black Lives Matter movement has encouraged more conversation on racism, as she remembers wishing she looked different as a child and had less curls
5 August 2020
She said: "I wish I could go back to that girl at 13 or 14 and tell her your natural beauty is great. I was always straightening my hair, taking the curls out with relaxer. Looking back, that's so sad. Relaxer has strong chemicals, but I was trying to be different because I hadn't really seen anyone who looked like me on television. The message of Black Lives Matter is wonderful.
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"Everyone wants to learn. There needs to be a [re-evaluation] of what children are taught at school. Whenever I heard about black people in history, it was that 400 years ago we were slaves. But so many stories are not told: positive messaging of black people's contributions throughout history - especially within the UK. These things shouldn't be left to the parents to teach."
And the 33-year-old singer struggled to "understand" racist comments at a young age, but now realises the pain it caused her mom.
Speaking to The Sunday Times magazine, she added: "I hadn't realised the pain my mum felt seeing us exposed to racism at such a young age. When I was about four years old there was a school fair.
"We had our faces painted and an older lady said, 'Oh, I didn't know butterflies could be brown.' I remember mum had heard it and I hadn't properly understood because we were too young. I think it was really disturbing for her - she saw the reality of racism more than we did at that age."